A Letter to Haniya

By Atefa Qorbani

I woke up at 4:30 in the morning. I don’t fall back asleep. My fucking headache was healed. I mean I could read a book. Or start a letter, whose words have been walking through my head since last night, but I didn’t want to write. Like all this time; whenever I should write; I prefer to sleep. The nights I didn’t have sleep, or whenever I should have slept and I didn’t fall asleep; it was unbearable. Like my headache; only sleep was the cure for this unknown situation. I said sleep is good. My friend Freshta said yes, when we are not doing something useful, it is better to sleep than to do anything untoward.


You said to write, write a lot. You said it was an injustice not to write. I said that if I don’t write, there will be no change, it won’t make a difference. Because there was really no change, there were the bests, who wrote, and they are still the bests, who write. If I write, I write only for myself, I write for my heart. What do I have in my head to write? Are these not all the influences of this book and that book? Do I have something new to say? When all these ideas were in my head, how could I write? But I don’t know why I don’t feel good when I’m not writing for a long time. I feel empty. All the works in the world are nothing except writing for me. The happiness that I experienced when I wrote my first poems, I saw and found in nothing else. Not writing is a punishment for me, but I have not written anything. I turned on the lamp. I went up the stairs, picked up my book, and came down again.


My tongue read the words of the book, and my mind spoke to you. I tried to focus my mind on the book and its words, but I couldn’t. I stopped reading the book, I picked up my phone to write a letter to you. A few days ago, I was supposed to say my lovely Haniya! If I am half your friend, it is better to remove me completely. Butmany days have passed, and I’m not the one who can be angry with her best friends for a long time. I forgive you because you are very far away from me. I also forgave Freshta, when she came and talked to me, and melted our ice. I told her the reasons for my displeasure, and she called them all irrational. I did agree a bit too and didn’t get stuck any more, though I am still annoyed. How can you really stop texting for a few days, and leave me alone and talk to each other for yourself? Exchange my letter and your letters between each other? As if I don’t exist, my heart is like a sparrow sometimes. If you don’t love me, I will lie down and die.


Haniya! My dear! I will tell you about Thursday, that Freshta came with a five kilogrammes black bag, which was normally full of books and said, “Let’s go sit outside under the mulberry trees of the fields.” 


Because she was upset at home and she was not well, and as always she needed open air and music. But if it’s me who is cramping my mood, I have to go alone. I experienced it before this Thursday. It was Monday. We had a community meeting and I also had to go to the population register in the morning. I sent a message to Freshta that after the university, let us walk a little under the green trees of the population register yard, and then go to the community together, but she was bored, she was not good and a whole lot of other excuses, as always. I am sorry if I made you sad with my complaints. Yesterday we went under the mulberry trees and listened to music and the wind was spreading the soil, we went back home and as usual, I cooked black eggplant and ate. We talked and discovered something funny. Every time she came to our home, we had black eggplants. Of course it was the consequence of her insistence on liking the black eggplant.


Together, we went  walking.  When we came back, we were thirsty and we got permission from the man who was pumping to water his barrel, to drink water. He rudely said to wait until his barrel was filled, we did not say anything and waited. But he said “Do you not have a home? Why don’t you go to your house to drink water?”


Do You see Haniya, we don’t have a country, we don’t have a home. Just because we are women. Just Monday, when we were walking on the sidewalk, a man walked past us and said, “Get lost, go to your house.” 


My nerves really broke and I said “You get out and go home” I yelled at him so fast and ran away. It’s unlikely that he would have heard me.


A few steps down, another man annoyed me with his words, he said “I am sorry for you” and added ”shame on you”. We are not allowed to go to school. We can not go to the parks and the street is the only place which they use to annoy us. I have never encountered the amount of hate that I see these days. I am so afraid that these unkind men will obsess us.

9 October, 2023